- Category: Politics
- Published on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 08:19
- Written by Compass
- Hits: 1944
ABEOKUTA, the Ogun State capital, was literally brought to a standstill yesterday. Thousands of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in the South-West state held a mass rally to protest the exclusion of their candidates in the April general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The protesters, who stormed the state secretariat on Oke-Mosan Road, Abeokuta, carried various placards with inscriptions denouncing Obasanjo’s activities and “frivolous” court injunctions.
Some of the placards read: “OBJ Going! Going! Gone,” “We are tired of old wine,” “Judiciary, enough of kangaroo injunctions,” “GNI is our candidate,” “Ogun PDP says no to OBJ,” and “OGD is our leader in Ogun.”
Party chieftains, including the Chairman, Elder Joju Fadairo; Secretary, Chief Pegba Otemolu, governorship candidate, Prince Gboyega Isiaka; commissioners and special advisers in Governor Gbenga Daniel’s state executive committee and former local government chairmen, attended the rally.
The rally resulted in heavy traffic across the metropolis, with commuters stranded at bus stops for several hours.
The protesters also resolved to embark on prolonged fasting and prayer until they reclaim their “stolen mandate.”
It will be recalled that Isiaka and other candidates who emerged at the recent PDP primaries in the state were not recognised, despite the fact that the exercise was monitored by INEC and security agencies in accordance with stipulated guidelines of the Electoral Law.
Instead, another list from Obasanjo’s faction, which contained the names of Major-General Tunji Olurin (rtd) and others, was accepted by INEC, following an injunction of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Hundreds of party members, especially those loyal to Daniel, have since expressed reservation about the turn of events.
To further protest the injustice allegedly meted out to them, the PDP members trooped round major roads in the state capital, chanting solidarity songs.
Fadairo, who spoke at the party secretariat shortly before the mammoth crowd embarked on procession, declared that party faithful loyal to Daniel would not dump the PDP.
“This rally is to show that we are still in PDP and that our exco members are still the authentic leaders of the party. We are not going anywhere as they had wanted us to do. We will not succumb to any clandestine move to frustrate us out of the party,” he added.
The chairman said the party would adopt legal means to reclaim the candidates’ mandate, urging party members to remain steadfast in the struggle.
Noting that the crisis rocking the party was temporary, Fadairo expressed optimism that the outcome of the various court injunctions would eventually be in favour of the candidates.
Isiaka, while also addressing the protesters, declared that the mandate given to him on January 9 when he won the governorship primaries, remained intact.
He expressed confidence in the ability of the judiciary to do justice in the matter, urging his supporters to remain calm and not resort to violence in the face of the “current injustice.”
“I want to assure you that the mandate you gave me on the 9th of January is still sure. We are still going to conquer. We will commit everything we have on this struggle but there shall be no violence. Justice is on our side. We have respected them enough; justice may be delayed but it cannot be denied,” Isiaka said.
While the Abeokuta rally was in progress, another rally organised by Olurin’s supporters was simultaneously holding in Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government Area.
The former military governor appealed to those who are aggrieved with the outcome of the primaries to forget the past and join him in the task of winning the state and moving it forward.